ZYGOMNESIS
(Continued) The Pre-Islamic Hajj
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There is no second prize in the race for life.  Non-existence is the price for coming second.  This accounts for the increasing frenzy among competing sperm as the egg hoves into striking distance.  Indeed, mammalian sperm cells undergo "sperm activation" as their acrosome caps touch the zona pellucida of the egg reacting with the calcium at the site.  In "hyperactivation", the sperm swim faster and their tail movements become more forceful.

Spermatozoon motility increases at zona pellucida
spermline.jpg

 
 
 
 
 
As the Fifth Pillar of Islam, the pilgrimage promises that all may come away renewed, though, indeed, the annihilation of hundreds of supplicants in the annual stampedes ominously mimics the eradication of millions of sperm which die without ever reaching the prize.  The symbol-forming tendency of the human mind has been at work overtime in the Hajj.
 

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Now, if the Kaaba represents the female "egg," why is it shaped like a box? The "box" is, to borrow Geza Roheim's terminology, "secondary elaboration."  It is actually slightly displacing the real object of the quest and that is the Hajar Aswad or "black stone" placed in the wall by the Prophet himself and ensconced in an unmistakeably vulva-like enclosure. 

manwomanstone.jpg
Two Pilgrims reach the sacred stone

The approach to Mecca brings hundreds of thousands together in a journey of idenity.  Literally stripped of the preoccupations of earthly status, there is a palpable spirit of equality which is the hallmark of the religion.  With each advancing step, the spiritual tension rises.  Here is the description by the late Iranian philosopher, Ali Shariati:

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"[As you] move closer to the Kabah, you feel like a small stream merging with a big river.  Carried by a wave you lose touch with the ground.  Suddenly, you are floating, carried on by the flood."

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"... As you approach the centre, the pressure of the crowd squeezes you so hard that you are given a new life... " 

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"You are now part of the People; you are now a Man, alive and eternal..."

Continued

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